Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Britton on schedule in rehab from torn Achilles

Left-hander expected to begin throwing at start of Spring Training
MLB.com @basebollie

BALTIMORE -- Orioles closer Zach Britton has had no setbacks in his rehabilitation from a ruptured right Achilles tendon and said in a conference call with reporters at Orioles FanFest on Saturday he is ahead of schedule in his recovery.

Britton, who suffered the injury working out at the Orioles' training facility in Sarasota, Fla., last month, was not able to make the trip to the event because it would have altered his rehab schedule. Instead, he called in from California, where he has been ramping up his daily movement while trying to regain comfort wearing his own shoes.

BALTIMORE -- Orioles closer Zach Britton has had no setbacks in his rehabilitation from a ruptured right Achilles tendon and said in a conference call with reporters at Orioles FanFest on Saturday he is ahead of schedule in his recovery.

Britton, who suffered the injury working out at the Orioles' training facility in Sarasota, Fla., last month, was not able to make the trip to the event because it would have altered his rehab schedule. Instead, he called in from California, where he has been ramping up his daily movement while trying to regain comfort wearing his own shoes.

The 30-year-old reliever recently met with doctors for the second of three appointments to check up on his progress. Britton said the medical experts are "really happy with where I'm at," a reassuring sign for the dominant converted starter O's manager Buck Showalter has turned to in the ninth inning over the past four seasons.

Tweet from @zbritton: Thanks for all the questions. Sorry for any that I missed. Looking forward to getting healthy and back on the mound soon. Hope everyone that attended fanfest had a blast and know that the players and organization appreciate the support.

"I'm feeling really good," Britton said. "Maybe a little ahead of schedule, but I'm not skipping any steps. Just picking up the pace on things I'm doing now. More walking, getting comfortable in a tennis shoe again and things like that. That'll be a week's worth of physical therapy right there, just getting used to walking in a shoe again and making sure my calf muscle is strong enough to allow me to step on a curb awkwardly and things like that without having any issues. So that's our focus, but things are going really well."

Britton, who has compiled a 1.61 ERA and 135 saves -- including 60 in a row at one point, an American League record -- in 246 1/3 innings since the start of 2014, is expected to be cleared to throw sometime in the next week. However, to play it safe, the left-hander said he's likely to wait until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Feb. 13 before he begins throwing.

"I see the doctor one more time, on Feb. 9, then I'll fly after that right out to Sarasota," Britton said. "I'll be walking, be back into throwing. I think I can throw next week, but I think we're just going to hold off and try to get to spring."

Video: BAL@NYY: Britton fans Sanchez to earn four-out save

The veteran hurler missed time in Spring Training last year because of an oblique injury and was limited to 38 appearances in 2017 because of a forearm issue. The rehab for the injuries is different -- the ruptured Achilles resulted in Britton's first-ever surgery -- but the mentality of not wanting to rush back is something he wants to take to heart this time around.

"Unfortunately I had those injuries, so I kind of have at least a baseline of what I know I need to get done," Britton said. "I'm fortunate it wasn't anything to my arm. These are things that are pretty reasonable to come back from. But it'll be a different rehab process."

Britton and Orioles head athletic trainer Brian Ebel have a plan set in place for taking things slow while also not hindering the advancement in his recovery. He won't be ready to pitch live games in the near future, but Britton expects to be able to at least throw off a mound before Opening Day.

"We got a really good baseline of what we want to do and what we can accomplish in spring," Britton said. "Hopefully before spring is over, I'll look like a healthy player, minus some things. We've got to make sure the ligament is fully healed before we start covering first base and making contact and things like that.

"From a throwing standpoint and even pitching off the mound, at some point in Spring Training, toward the middle to the end, I'm sure that'll start happening. But we've got a little ways to go until then. Right now, the progress has been really good. I haven't had any setbacks. I'm a little ahead of schedule, which is nothing but good news."

Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @basebollie.

Baltimore Orioles, Zach Britton